Coach | Consultant | Mentor | Teacher | Practitioner
The titles Coach, Consultant, Mentor, Teacher, Practitioner have been used interchangeably for awhile now and I believe it is leading to some confusion over what people should expect when they engage with a program or person for help.
It seems like everything is getting put under the title of “coach” when that isn’t correct.
A Coach uses a very specific approach. In a very broad example, when a client asks a question, the coach will return the question to them and ask them what they think. They will guide them to uncover what is true for them in that moment and then guide them to a course of action that resonates with them. Wearing this hat, they won’t tell you what to think or what to do.
A Consultant is an expert in their field, whether through study or experience. They bring a wealth of knowledge that they can tailor to your individual circumstances. They will provide expert advice relevant to their field of expertise. If they are giving you broad information not based on your needs, they may actually be wearing a Mentor hat.
A Mentor will always be sharing from their experience, from the path they walked before you. They will role model what could be possible for you, from their advanced position on the path you are on. This will rarely be specific to your needs, but rather when in the same place as you are now, sharing what they did or would have done differently based on their experience. A mentor is inspirational and aspirational, they will expand what is possible for you, they will see where you can go in a way that you might not be able to see from where you are.
A Teacher will teach the how-to. The how-to is the most important thing to them. In this role, they won’t separate out what your individual path is, they will give broad information that is relevant to the largest number of people. If you are going into a course and wanting to know how it applies to your own circumstances then you need to request either a 1:1 consultation if you want their expert opinion or a 1:1 coaching call if you want them to help you gain clarity and pull out of you what you already know but can’t articulate.
A Practitioner will offer done-for-you products, eg., they will write your copy, they will set up your advertising, they will design your website. They won’t teach you how to do it yourself, they won’t guide you to what is right for you. They won’t tell you that what you are doing is wrong for you. They will do as you ask them to. If you aren’t clear on what you want, you need to engage with a consultant first, before you hire a practitioner.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
It’s important to be clear on these roles and their titles as both a client and a business owner.
As a client, to manage your own expectations when you join a program or sign on with someone. If it’s not clear in their marketing, ask them what role they intend to play in your journey and what you actually need help with.
As a business owner, it’s important to tell a client what hat you are wearing, to manage their expectations about the experience they are going to receive and so they know what to expect in that moment.
As an example, if a client is expecting you to be a Consultant and you start Coaching them, they will be mad…they will think:
“Can’t you just give me the answer, what am I even paying you for?!”
If you are a consultant who also does Coaching, you could say “Okay, I am going to put my coach hat on right now. You already know the answer, your intuition already knows what to do but you are outsourcing the answer to me as your intuition is cloudy. I am going to coach you to make your intuition clearer so you can receive it.”
But if you are saying you are a Consultant and not providing expert advice, consider changing your title to Coach. If you are calling yourself a Coach but you only provide expert advice or teaching or mentoring or done-for-you services, you definitely need to change your title, it is misleading.
If you wear multiple hats in your service, tell your client which hat you are wearing.
We identify as Guides, as we wear all the hats depending on what is required in the moment with our clients.
Mum (Julie) mostly wears the Mentor hat (she has had over 38 years of experience as an energy healer and business owner after all) and the Teacher hat. Her teaching comes from a desire to pass on the how-to knowledge she has learned over her lifetime to the next generation of healers. As a young person she was taught how to teach the person coming up behind her in the secretarial pool, and that has carried on into her healing work.
I (Tash) wear the Coach and the Consultant hats. I found I have a natural gift for coaching as I have an insatiable curiosity and a need to ask why, so I ask many questions. I’ve discovered this lends itself to coaching. I have been in branding, marketing and graphic design for over 12 years, so as an expert in this field, I wear the Consultant hat and naturally answer these questions.
Between the two of us we cover all the hats and I think that must be why our clients love us so much and why they say “you both bring such different things to our calls”…
…and yes all our sessions we do together, you don’t just get one of us on the call, you get both of us. It’s where our most potent magic is.
What has been your experience with these different roles? As a business owner or as a client.
Author: Tash Lewin